Norfolk Southern SD70ACe #1070 (Wabash Heritage Unit)
Photo by Jacob Boslet

Years built




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Years in Operation


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Type of Diesel Train


Number Operational


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(l × w × h)


Prime mover(s)



Standard (4'8")

V - E - T - D

The SD70ACe is a 'CoCo'=6 Power Axle 4300hp Diesel Electric locomotive, built 2003~2015 by ElectroMotiveDiesel (EMD), later to become ProgressRail/Caterpillar. It was replaced in 2016 by a new model SD70ACe-T4, with a slightly longer frame, new diesel engine, & improved controls, so to comply with stricter EPA Tier 4 emissions regulations. The original SD70ACe was designed to comply with EPA Tier2 regulations. Several thousand SD70ACe units were built for both NorthAmerican & offshore customers.

CSX purchased 19 pre-production SD70ACe's. Union Pacific was the model's second customer, and now rosters 680+ units. BNSF rosters 650 SD70ACe's (20 of which are SD70ACe-P4's). Norfolk Southern, KCS, Montana Rail Link, and Arkansas & Missouri also roster SD70ACe's. EMD had a 30 unit SD70ACe order from CN, but the order has been canceled. CN has since purchased four EMD SD70ACe-P6 units, still adorned in patched EMDX demonstrator paint. Tacoma Rail began operating two SD70ACe-P4's leased from EMD in 2014.

On January 01, 2015, EPA Tier 4 regulations went into effect, thus EMD could not continue production of the SD70ACe for NorthAmerican customers. EMD initially thought the 710 engine would meet Tier4 rules, but it failed. So EMD pushed development of the SD70ACe-T4.

Despite the new Tier 4 regulations, railroads can bank their credits built up with EMD to acquire Tier 4 credit (T4C) locomotives. Union Pacific has done this, ordering additional SD70AH's in the 8997 - 9096 number range. Additionally, Norfolk Southern went back to EMD in 2018 for 40 T4C ACe's, which will be numbered 1175 - 1214).

EMD demonstrated the SD70ACe-T4 at the RailWayInterChange show in Minneapolis; this design relates to the old SD70ACe only in name. The unit features the new EMD 12-cylinder 1010 prime mover (vs the 16-710), produces 4400hp, in addition to a restyled (non-iso) cab and new HTCR-6 lighter-weight trucks. EMD plans to have 5 demos testing on the UnionPacific by the end of this year. Full production is set to begin 2nd Quarter, 2016. Union Pacific is the launch customer for the SD70ACe-T4; it placed an order for 65 units due at the end of 2016, the first of which, Union Pacific No. 3013, was delivered in early November of 2016.


  • Arkansas and Missouri (QTY:3) #'s 70-72. Ex-EMDX 1201-1203.

    SD70ACe-T4. Photo by Jim Wrinn

  • BNSF: (QTY:650) #'s 8400-8499, 8500-8519 (SD70ACe-P4's), 8520-8599, 8749-8799, 9000-9158, and 9160-9399.
  • CN: (QTY:4) #'s 8100-8103 (Ex-EMDX SD70ACe-P6 Demos #1206,1208,1209,1210).
  • CSX: (QTY:20) #'s 4831-4850. These were preproduction SD70ACe's built in 2004. As of 2018 all CSX ACe's have been removed from the roster.
  • FXE: (QTY:116) #'s 4000-4115
  • KCS: (QTY:178) #'s 3997-4199. 3997-3999 are ex EMDX Demos; 4060-4099 are KCSM. 
  • MRL (QTY:23) #'s 4300-4315, 4400-4403. 4400-4401 built July 2013; 4402-4403 built December 2013. 4404-4408 arrived in Spring 2014
  • NS (QTY:215) #'s 1000-1214. 1065-1074 are adorned in NS Heritage paint schemes. (1125-1174 have piping in place to allow for the eventual installation of equipment in order to burn LNG.) 40 on order for 2018 delivery. 
  • QNS&L (QTY:23) #'s 501-523.
  • Tacoma Rail (QTY:2) #'s 7000-7001 (ex-EMDX #1211-1212 SD70ACe-P4's)
  • UP (QTY:687) #'s 1982, 1983, 1988, 1989, 1995, 1996, 4141, 8309-8378, 8380-8382, 8384-8395, 8397-8422, 8424-8996, 8997-9062. Models after 8823 are designated SD70AH (heavier version SD70ACe). Models after 8997 are Tier 4 Credit SD70ACe's.


  • SD70ACe: One DC~AC Inverter per truck.
  • SD70ACe-P4: 4PoweredAxles=B1B1, the 2 inside axles are unpowered, introduced 2012 in direct response to the GE.ES44C4.
  • SD70ACe-P6: SD70ACe with individual axle inverter control; each individual axle powered per truck
  • SD70ACe/45: BroadGauge, produced by EMD in Brazil. It has three radiator fans on top roof since it uses the same carbody of the SD80ACe developed by EMD Canada for ValeMining of Brazil.
  • SD70ACe-T4: EMD's new line haul road locomotive meeting Tier4 rules. only designated as SD70ACe for marketing reasons.
  • SD70ACE-BB: Narrow-gauge version

Notable LocomotivesEdit

  • Norfolk Southern 1065: Savannah & Atlanta heritage unit
  • Norfolk Southern 1066: New York Central heritage unit
  • Norfolk Southern 1067: Reading Company heritage unit
  • Norfolk Southern 1068: Erie Railroad heritage unit
  • Norfolk Southern 1069: Virginian Railway heritage unit
  • Norfolk Southern 1070: Wabash Railroad heritage unit
  • Norfolk Southern 1071: Central Railroad of New Jersey heritage unit
  • Norfolk Southern 1072: Illinois Terminal heritage unit
  • Norfolk Southern 1073: Penn Central heritage unit
  • Norfolk Southern 1074: Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad heritage unit
  • Union Pacific 1982: Missouri Pacific heritage unit
  • Union Pacific 1983: Western Pacific heritage unit
  • Union Pacific 1988: Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad heritage unit
  • Union Pacific 1989: Rio Grande heritage unit
  • Union Pacific 1995: Chicago & North Western heritage unit
  • Union Pacific 1996: Southern Pacific heritage unit
  • Union Pacific 1943: Spirit of the Union Pacific locomotive
  • Union Pacific 4141: George Bush 41 locomotive. Although it was sent into long-term storage in 2007, it participated in the funeral for George H. W. Bush on December 6, 2018, and later toured the UP system with UP 1943.


Although a successful design, the SD70ACe had numerous flaws, primarily with the cab. Despite having a unique design, the actual design often made maintaining the wiring and accessing the microprocessor components difficult for railroad employees at first. BNSF has relegated its 70 non-IsoCab SD70ACe's to trailing unit only status. Following the BNSF Red Oaks, Iowa rear end collision which led to the death of the train crew onboard an SD70ACe, it was noted that the cab can separate and flatten in significant collisions. To date, no redesign changes have taken place.


The main way of distinguishing an SD70ACe from an SD70M-2 is by a box on the left side of each unit, with an SD70ACe having louvered vents - on the SD70M-2, these are plated over. There is no significant difference in external appearance between an SD70ACe and an SD70ACe-P4, except for the missing traction motor on the axle closest to the fuel tank on the P4 model.

IMG 9527 edited

A photo to show one of the main spotting features between an SD70ACe and SD70M-2. Original photo credit: Terry Cantrell.


  • Union Pacific and BNSF Railway have the largest fleets of SD70ACe's - UP has 687, while BNSF has 650.
  • The SD70ACe was the last type of production diesel locomotive produced by EMD under GM's ownership, and the first under CAT/Progress Rail. 
  • The EMD SD70ACe (as well as the actual SD70 Series) was also the last type of diesel locomotive to be built in EMD's LaGrange, Illinois plant, as well as the last to be built in their London, Ontario shops, and the first to be built in EMD's new Muncie, Indiana facility.
  • In 2012, EMD introduced the SD70ACe-P4 in direct response to GE's ES44C4. The P4 is a B1-1B model (axles closest to the fuel tank are unpowered).
  • As of 2014, BNSF and Tacoma Rail are the only railroads to own SD70ACe-P4's, and CN is the only owner of SD70ACe-P6's.
  • Both UP and NS have specially-painted "heritage units" or SD70ACe units which are painted in commemorative schemes which are meant to designate former railroads which they purchased or operate over former trackage. (Such as the NS having trackage over former NYC rails, as well as the UP's purchase of the SP.)
  • The locomotive's design was mainly inspired by that of the SD80MAC and SD90MAC. This is evident in the model's large rear radiator "fins" or "wings", the rear-located dynamic brakes, and the tight, angular housing of the prime mover. Several new features were inspired by GE's newest AC locomotives, including a large radiator cabinet placed on one side, air tanks placed on another. The cab is an updated version of EMD's Phase II cab used on the SD90MAC-H.
  • Several foreign versions also exist as well.
  • To celebrate the opening of CAT/EMD's Muncie, Indiana facility, EMD painted EMDX #1201; an SD70ACe, in a unique CAT scheme of yellow, black, silver, and chrome.
  • The SD70ACe was also the first type of locomotive to use the once-exclusive Nathan K5LLA horn, which is a 1L chime variant of the original K5LA.
  • Earlier KCS (Kansas City Southern) SD70ACe units owned by the railroad were painted in the railroad's generic grey with yellow stripes scheme, and were some of the last locomotives on the railroad's roster to be painted in such scheme before the classic or vintage-esque "Belle" scheme was eventually developed.